Returning to Childhood

Returning to Childhood by Debra H. Goldstein

Last Friday was Passover’s first 2019 Seder. At one time, our extended family’s Seders averaged 20-30 attendees, but in the past few years the death of the older generation, the different cities our children have settled in, and the activities of our children and grandchildren significantly decreased that number. This year, only four of us – my husband’s sister and her husband and my husband and me – were at the table.

Even though our number was low, we celebrated the holiday in the traditional manner. We went through the Haggadah saying the prayers and reciting the story of Passover, we ate too much food, and we enjoyed being together. At other homes throughout the city and the world, the same rituals were followed.

After the evening ended, I exchanged an e-mail with a friend, who attended a much larger family Seder. She told me about an interesting occurrence during their meal. Traditionally, the youngest at the Seder, is asked to recite the four questions. This year, for the first time, the six-year-old grandchild of the host and hostess skyped from New York to recite the four questions in Hebrew and English. The family was thrilled, while the child took great joy from participating so successfully in her grandparents’ Seder.

Our Seder was a little different. No child skyped in. Because I was the youngest in attendance, I asked the four questions. It seemed funny not to have a child asking the questions, but at the same time, it felt right. The moment of the four questions passes quickly, followed by the family taking turns giving the answers or explanations, but it is the moment from this year’s Seder that will stick with me.

It has been a long time since I recited the four questions. It has been even longer since I was a child. But, for a moment, I again was both. Have you ever had a moment that returned you to your childhood?

8 comments

  1. LD Masterson says:

    Would a teenager do? I did have an interesting flashback last year. My first car, one I shared with my brother, was a ’64 Rambler American convertible that I loved. Now that I’ve finished those decades of carpool station wagons and sensible four door sedan, I’m again driving a convertible. The flashback occurred on a summer day, I had the top down and the 60s channel blaring on the XM satellite radio. A song came on that I remembered well and suddenly I was driving down a familiar street in my old hometown. I was in the Rambler and I could see every house just the way it was back then. I was 16. Then it was gone.

    • What a perfect image and memory. I can see it now….and yes, being a teenaged memory counts. I remember when the last van was behind me… I was so excited to only have one back seat… but a convertible. I’m jealous. Thanks for stopping by today.

  2. We spent the first night of Passover with my husband and me at TooJay’s. The second night, our kids came in and we joined the extended family at my cousin’s house. Because there are many children in attendance, we use a kindergarten Haggadah. It still tells the same story but in an easy reading style. What was new to me were plague toys and finger puppets. We never had those when I grew up.

  3. there’s always a place for a good deli…… I haven’t tried that one, but heard much about it. When I was going through a catalog for the holiday, I saw those plague toys and finger puppets. I stared at the page, but kept going. How nice that you were able to spend the second seder with your extended family. The pictures looked like fun. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Arlene Shelsky says:

    At every Seder, I re-live my childhood. Using my late dad’s afikomen bag, sometimes his old Haggadah, and/or kiddish cup, brings me back to our house in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The candles, soup, brisket, and sharing of the traditions of Pesach, transport me back to my relatives and friends who have passed away. Once again, I’m asking “The 4 Questions” in Yiddish, and basking in the warmth of my late loved ones and the ones I’m blessed to be with….

    • Arlene, you nailed some of how we felt this year. We thought about the beloved ones who have passed on and were grateful to be together, even as small as the seder was this year. Using the things from our parents and grandparents make it more special. Thank you for leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts with It’s Not Always a Mystery’s readers.

  5. Linda Baker says:

    Love the memories. Mine happens every time I smell Ivory soap. It takes me to a kitchen in a very old house where Grandma lived with her parents and two brothers. The kitchen had an wood burning stove where she made coffee, biscuits, bacon and eggs. After the meal she pulled out a metal dishpan, put it on a red and white plaid tablecloth and walked dishes with Ivory soap. I see Grandma’s white hair in a plait wrapped like a crown around her head. Such sweet memories. I felt so loved.

    • Linda, what a sweet memory. Not only does it evoke your grandmother, but the other people in the house are subconsciously thought of, too. Thank you for sharing your memory…and isn’t it nice that Ivory soap is something you can get / use anytime so the memory stays close to you.

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